January Foodie Pen Pals

In January I signed up for Foodie Pen Pals for my first time. The basics: you sign up, you get a pen pal to send food to and one to receive food from. Your spending limit is $15 and they ask that you send them something specific to your area, or something fun and interesting along with a handwritten note.

I still write regular letters to my grandfather and remember the days of pen pals, so I thought what a great way to “meet” new people and try new foods. Stephanie L was my pen pal this month and she is from Texas. I was very happy to get my package mid month!!

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I received a package for making black bean soup, BBQ seasonings, red pepper jam, dark chocolate with chili peppers, chocolate covered cherries, HOMEMADE larabars and a cute card with the recipe for the bars!

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So, I dove right into one of the bars, and it was delicious!! Stephanie… thank you for those!! Ok, I will be honest, the only thing I didn’t try yet is the BBQ rub (saving that for Superbowl Sunday). I have had the jam once before at my brother’s, and found it is DELICIOUS on toast with a little cream cheese and some of the jam, so to have my own jar, that is awesome!!

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The chocolates were yummy, but I was good and shared those with friends and coworkers. A couple people at work loved the chocolate with chilis. That is definitely not common here in Vegas!! (sorry I forgot to take pics of those)

This past weekend I made the soup. I will say, this was my favorite venture. I have never made a soup with beans that were fresh. So, it was an all day adventure, perfect for a Sunday. I soaked the beans, and started the process. The one thing that intrigued both Stephanie and I, the recipe called for orange juice.

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So, about 8 hours and many steps later, I had soup!! I was so proud of this. In the future, I may do more with beans now that I have tried out this process. The soup was delicious. The orange juice gave a little sweetness to the spicy bite that the soup had. I topped it with plain greek yogurt (my sour cream) and some cheddar and enjoyed it with some tortilla chips.

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All in all, a delicious box of food that definitely gave me the Texas feel. Thank you Stephanie!! (I learned it was also her first time in Foodie Pen Pals, great job lady!)  I loved it so much, I quickly signed up for Foodie Pen Pals for February!!!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If interested, click the link above or on the side of this blog! Join us!!

Pretty Muddy Women’s Mud Run

Now you all know my love of Mud Run Events. Last year I completed the Devil Dash and Warrior Dash and look forward to completing several this year as well. There is nothing like fun and fitness combined! To hang out with friends conquering obstacles and a few fears while playing in mud… is an adventure that will give you lasting memories and good laughs. As well as a sense of accomplishment!

I am honored to be part of Team Pretty Muddy this year! As Pretty Muddy enters their second year they have learned and made wonderful improvements and are adding new locations around the country! As a way to say thank you and encourage some quality girl mud time (hey… mud is good for your skin!) Pretty Muddy is offering a great discount that expires on January 31st! This is the lowest price of the year, so if you are interested, now is the time!! Check out the dates and locations below:

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2013 Pretty Muddy Events

Dallas, TX – June 1

Sacramento, CA – June 29

Chicago, IL – September 7

Columbus, OH- September 14

Richmond, VA – September 28

Atlanta, GA – October 12

Tampa, FL – November 30

Miami, FL – December 7

Do you want to get Pretty Muddy? If you register before January 31 for any of these events use the code GIRLTIME to get a $20 discount! This is going to be the absolute lowest price of the season! Here is how to register using the code:

1. Click on the location you want to register for

2. Click register

3. Click on the pink words that say “enter promotional code”

4. Type in GIRLTIME (all one word) and hit apply

5. The new pricing will pop up, so enter the quantity you want and Register!!

Lastly… have fun, and get muddy!!

The Sweet Feeling of a Mental Victory

As you saw from Saturday’s post, I tried a new workout Saturday with two friends. You also know that I am not the biggest lover of strength training. I am making an effort to incorporate it into my routine because of the benefits, but it is always a struggle for me. Well, Saturday, it was a challenge. the TRX system is a great challenge, and that hour session helped me realize where my strength training was, and how it could improve. It wasn’t easy, I was exhausted by the end and my muscles were shaking. But, I did it. A small victory!

So of course, after a workout like that, you know you will wake up to sore muscles the next day. I was set to run 6-8 miles on Sunday. I didn’t prepare well for it at all. Here is what my weekend looked like:

Saturday: workout at 10:00 am, breakfast of egg white veggie omelet and toast, cleaned the house, picked up groceries for dinner. Homemade pasta and chicken/turkey meatballs for dinner with a friend. Some drinks. Definitely not enough water. Cupcakes with ice cream in the middle. Stayed up late.

Sunday: woke up sore. Had french toast and bacon for breakfast, laid around, drank some water. Still very sore. Decided to try a run anyway…

So, I changed, had a Honey Stinger vanilla gel, filled up my water bottle, packed some Honey Stinger pink lemonade chews and my tunes and headed out. Seriously, walking out of my development felt weird (you know that sore muscle I think I’m walking funny feel). I realized it was pretty freaking windy. Great, let’s add that to the mix. So, after the first 3/4 mile I wanted to turn around and go home. I told myself well, that will be 1.5 miles, so you should just keep going and you can cut the route so you get at least 2 in if you don’t want to do 3. So, I ran up hill into the wind. (I swear in Vegas there is always a headwind) I at this point also decided to take walk breaks when I needed them, but to keep them to a certain number of light poles. If I was running and wanted to walk, I couldn’t until I passed a certain number of light poles, yes… I play mental games with myself to keep me going. Well, when I hit the point where I could turn and go home and settle for 3 miles, I told myself, head out a bit and at least get in 4. I knew deep down if I could get my feet to go that way, I would end up getting 7 miles in. I wouldn’t stop until I hit my scheduled turnaround point. So, I trucked it up to the park, filled the water bottle, had the chews and did a loop around the park. Heading out of the park I felt a sense of happiness and pride. My legs were exhausted and I knew I was slower than normal, but, I also had about 1.5 miles left until I hit 7 miles.

As I turned the last corner and finished my run at 7 miles I almost cried. Not from the pain (well, not entirely) but from the joy I felt for actually running the 7 miles when  I didn’t want to get off the couch. When I had every excuse to not go and did a good job of not preparing. I went anyway. I posted my run from the app to daily mile and said: “didn’t beat my time today, but beat my mind. Better victory”. I shut up the doubting side of my brain, I overcame the thoughts of negativity and self doubt and completed 7 miles. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes later I looked at my pace. Because honestly, I didn’t care. I ran to run, to beat my mind… and I did. And yes… my pace was slow, and I don’t care.

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So… remember the next time your mind is telling you no, and the self doubt is creeping in, that you are capable of more than you think. You will never know how much until you try. Get out there, take the first step and see where it leads. Mental victories are amazing… I honestly think that brutal 7 miles was more rewarding than some race finish lines. I challenge you to not just step out of your comfort zone but to destroy the hold that keeps you in it. Achieve YOUR mental victory!

Trying New Things

Today was a day of adventures, and it’s only 1:00 pm. Recently my friend Kristina joined the gym Kristin and I go to. With that, we got a free group training session. We finally coordinated all our schedules and at 10:00, we had our session. It’s no secret I am not big on weight lifting. I KNOW the benefits, trust me I do… but I get bored easily. Well, this class was a great remedy for that. The three of us and two trainers did a circuit training and used the TRX (I love this thing a little a lot). So, our circuits were a step that we had to lift up and hop on one leg for 30 sec, then switch legs for 30 seconds. Then, mountain climbers with a bosu ball, then a plank with the bosu, on the TRX one foot in and squats, then switch, bicep curls and skull crushers (triceps work) and then squat and rows all on the TRX (30 sec ea, except the squat rows, that got a whole minute. Then… 3 more circuits: walk out push up, kettle bell squats and ball squats (throw the ball down and squat to catch it). We did this circuit a few times, then, some abs work. It was a KILLER workout, and I will feel it on tomorrow’s run, but it was a good time and a nice challenge. Was I perfect at it, no. But did I enjoy the challenge, yes. (sorry, I don’t have pics).

After the workout, on a silly dare Kristin made with me, we tried Vegamite. She will one day learn to never challenge me on a food dare.

So, we spread a little on some bread and split it. It wasn’t great:

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Kristin spit it out:

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I swallowed and followed up with Nutella to rid the taste from my mouth. Not wanting to pass judgement on this one attempt, I made some toast, put a lot of butter on it and a little Vegamite. This time… it wasn’t bad. I won’t eat it regularly, but, again, I am glad I tried it!

So… what have you tried new lately?

Energy Bits Review

In December I was given the opportunity to try and review Energy Bits. As a runner, I am always interested in learning more about fueling sources, especially all natural ones! The concept of these little tablets intrigued me… Spirulina Algae. No additives? No caffeine? And these little things will give me energy? Definitely worth exploring! This little container of goodness soon arrived at my doorstep:

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It does say you can either swallow them or chew them. I will be honest, the initial thought that came to mind when I smelled them (yes, I smelled them) was fish food. Yes, I know, they are algae… but, that thought didn’t create a huge desire to chew them, so, I swallowed them. Sorry that I cannot tell you how they actually taste if chewed.

Well, I took some before a spin class after a long day at work. This would usually be when I would grab some coffee to go workout and then get stuff done at home after. The little bits did what they said! I didn’t feel tired, exhausted, or that I needed an IV of caffeine to make it through the rest of the day. This coming from a coffee addict connoisseur is saying something. I finished up an intense hour of spin, headed home to cook dinner and still had enough energy to do a bunch of stuff around the house I would usually prefer to do on the weekends ignore. So thanks Energy Bits… for helping me get that stuff done too.

Impressed with the bits, I decided to try them out for a half marathon. I took about 30 of them about 15-20 minutes before gun time.  Now, to be fair, I hadn’t run much in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, was exhausted and it was cold. So, I was going in to this run hoping to not totally bomb. Other than adding the bits I had my normal routine for the race. It took a bit to warm up and not curse the cold temps, but, once I stopped whining about the cold, I found my pace. My energy stayed consistent throughout the run and even though I was under-prepared, I felt pretty good. No energy crash, I didn’t rely on back up energy sources (I am a planner so I had back-ups if needed). The Energy Bits kept my energy levels steady. Another fact I noticed, is that normally around mile 9-10 I start to get really really hungry. This didn’t happen. I refueled after the race, but wasn’t ravenous at the end. An added bonus? Perhaps!

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So, these little bits of Spirulina provide a multitude of health benefits (from their website):

ENERGYbits® Health Benefits

  • Helps improve physical energy
  • Helps improve endurance
  • Helps reduce fatigue
  • Helps speed athletic recovery
  • Helps healing from brain concussions and reduces brain fog
  • Helps build muscle
  • Helps improve mental focus and clarity
  • Helps reduce anemia
  • Helps reduce blood pressure
  • Helps reduce cholesterol
  • Helps balance blood sugar
  • Provides natural nitric oxide
  • Provides most daily nutritional needs, especially greens
  • Provides high quality protein and nutrition on the run or on the road
  • Helps fight free radicals with high concentration of antioxidants
  • Helps balances all body functions – is100% alkaline
  • Helps improve skin, hair, nails, bones and eye health
  • Helps build healthy blood, cell tissue and muscle
  • Helps improve mood
  • Helps remove hunger
  • Raw food, great for vegans or those who hate greens
  • Safe nutrition for anyone of any age, from children to seniors

I am definitely happy I found these… the little carrying case is convenient for travel and to toss in the purse, gym bag, running belt… you name it. Have you tried them? Share your opinions! Thank you Energy Bits!!

*Although I received this product for this review, the opinions are mine and not influenced by EnergyBits.

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner of the yogiclothing.com cargo pocket pants!!!

CONGRATULATIONS to Angela Hotz!!

Please email me so I can get your prize to you!!

 

Vitacost One Day Sale

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Vitacost is having a one day sale!! On top of vitamins, supplements, health and fitness and beauty products, Vitacost has all the natural baby products you need – from sore bottom balm and bubble bath to organic baby food and BPA-free bottles. Plus, our revolutionary Set & Save program makes it super-easy to have diapers delivered right to your door on a schedule of your choosing. No more late-night dashes to the drugstore!

Anything you and your family will need!! Check them out! http://bit.ly/10EQbL1 and use promo code 123SAVE

Let me know what you purchase and tell me all about it!!

The Honey Stinger Hive!!

Honey Stinger

Yesterday I received very exciting news, that I would love to share with you all today. For 2013 I will be sponsored by Honey Stinger! I am now officially a member of the Honey Stinger Hive, their grassroots sponsorship program!! I am beyond excited and proud to be a member of The Hive and look forward to a great year working with them!!

I absolutely love their products, I have tried so many and these taste great and give me great energy during my training and races. They are all natural and some are organic. They are the only ones I have found that do not upset my stomach when I am running.

Have you tried them yet? If you haven’t you definitely should!

 

Learning To Love Rest Days

As someone involved in fitness or seeking a healthier lifestyle it is easy to get caught up in the “go, go, go” mentality. I have seen it in a lot of people who are new to fitness… the “addiction” grabs you before you know it. You see posts and posters and motivational sayings about ‘always making time’, daily fitness, etc. You admire those that have the “perfect body”, envy those that find the time to work out 4 hours a day. And, like some, try to accomplish this. You see streaks for running and other activities. The thought of sitting still brings about guilt for not being active.

I’ve been there. I’ve tried it, more than once. I have failed every time. Why? Because my body and my mind want rest and will beg for it. I might try to ignore it, but eventually, the body will be heard, usually with a bout of sheer exhaustion or getting sick. If there is something I have learned in my journey to lose 60 lbs and become a runner, it’s to listen to my body. I won’t lie, sometimes I still try to ignore my body’s cries for a break, and it usually makes me pay for that arrogance. I admit I would feel guilty taking a day off, like I wasn’t dedicated enough, that I should be stronger than needing a rest day. I’d stare at my training plan and feel like a failure if I chose to curl up with my dog and relax instead of doing my tempo run.

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my sleeping Mia…

Then, I did some research. I am not a fan of guilt or feeling bad for doing something, whether it be resting or working out. I learned the importance of rest days, both physically and mentally. When giving 110% non-stop the risk of burning out and stopping completely is higher. Your body and muscles need time to recover and repair. Your mind needs a break. Your sanity needs balance.

But, I still felt bad taking “a day off”, like I was being unproductive. Never mind the mounds of laundry and dishes that would be done, the extra time with dogs, the shopping, catching up on emails, spending time with my husband… nope, I didn’t exercise, therefore I wasn’t productive. It was an unhealthy mindset, but an easy one to get sucked into if you aren’t careful.

It took some time for me to come to terms with rest days and make my mind shut up and enjoy them. I knew the importance of them, my body appreciated them, but my conscience did a number on my psyche. Guilt can destroy you. It took some time to get my conscience in sync with the rest of my mind and body and to enjoy the moment, whether it be the sunset on a run, a curled up sleeping dog on your lap, or drinks and dessert with loved ones. Taking that break will allow your body to reward you with more progress. It will improve in strength, endurance and muscle tone when allowed the time to recover.

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me and two of my besties enjoying dinner and drinks

So, how do you take a rest day? Good question.

  1. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs best. What my body needs for recovery and what your body needs are completely different, do what is right for you.
  2. Ignore the chatter. Both inside your head and all around you. There is nothing wrong with rest days. They are recommended by professionals. All progress won’t be lost if you take one (or several).
  3. Find an active rest routine that works for you. Taking a day off doesn’t mean sitting on the couch gorging on junk food. Take a walk, do yoga, find a stretching routine.
  4. Schedule them in like you do workouts and don’t skip them!
  5. If you are recovering from an injury or being sick, take more than one a week, ease back into your routine allowing your body time to adjust.
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my workout details are more specific, but the idea is the scheduled REST day!

I’ve gotten to the point with my rest days where I will do a short yoga routine, drag the hubby and dogs out for a nice walk, then curl up with a good book. Some of them, I just relax all day. I am learning to relax my mind as well as my body. It took awhile, but, I really am falling in love with rest days.

Here are some great links on the benefits of rest days and some tips!

http://www.drlenkravitz.com/Articles/overtraining2.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/506197-how-to-take-a-day-off-between-workouts/

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/rest-easy

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

 

Running From An Angel Race Review

This past Saturday was half marathon number 1 of 13 for 2013. A local race director puts together challenging courses, and this one is no exception. Set at the scenic Lake Mead area in Boulder City, NV Running From An Angel is a hilly out and back half marathon. Although I love the challenge of her courses, I know that a PR is not easy, so I went into this one hoping to do well and start my year of half marathons off right.

A cold snap decided to hit Vegas the weekend of this race. It was about 28 at race start… not what I was hoping for, and as a desert dweller, not easy to prepare for. The night before I set out my outfit, prepped my race day bag and got some sleep. As some of you know, I have been dealing with some eye issues (recurrent corneal erosion to be exact, but, we’ll discuss that at another time). I was just at the doctor’s Thursday for a follow-up, given a new routine of drops to use, and given the okay to race. I woke up Saturday morning with an occurrence of the corneal erosion. To sum it up, this means stabbing pain, watery eye, and blurred vision. I will be honest: I was not happy (obviously) and for a few moments contemplated not running. I knew the eye issue would come in to play on the course, it would slow me down, make me extra cautious of where I was running as my vision was blurred and stress me out with concerns it would get worse while running. To be even more honest, this issue has been beating up my psyche for a few months. I don’t know why, but Saturday morning, I had had enough… I was angry that my eye was acting up, in pain, and frustrated, but, this goal is important to me, and I needed to at least try to run that race.

I continued to get ready, brought extra eye drops to carry during the race, and headed out. I was all dressed in layers and prepped for the cold and the hills. Had my fueling of Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Waffle (I LOVE the pink lemondae or limeade flavor chews and the vanilla waffles) for during the race and a slightly shaky mindset. Hey, I just need to finish I kept telling myself.

Well, the eye issue didn’t act up during the race, but the worry did interfere. It took me a few miles to really get into the run, and honestly, I felt off for most of it, worried about the wind blowing something into my eye, and making sure I kept putting eye drops in. The hills were a challenge… steep and long. Here is the elevation chart:

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Around mile 9 I felt my calves and feet cramping. This was odd for me because I stay hydrated, drank plenty of electrolytes the day before… I did realize that for the first time I ran with my calf sleeves on (normally I put them on after) and I pushed them down and my legs began to feel better, enough for me to really push it the last half mile. Yes, I know they are supposed to minimize cramping, maybe my connection between the two is in my head, but, it’s worth noting for me.

Overall, I did okay, not spectacular, not amazing, but, despite the way the morning started and the muscle cramps, I finished. I FINISHED!!!!!!!!!! (and, my time was not as horrible as I thought) As I crossed that finish line, inside I was screaming “screw you eye issues, you didn’t win today!” Seriously, that was my victory Saturday; that I didn’t give in to the voice wanting to curl up and be miserable with a hurting eye. That I drove out to the lake on a freezing morning and ran a half marathon; my seventh half overall and my first of 2013. My official chip time: 2:34:32. Not my best time, but, I am told from my friend/coach, that it is a good time for that course for me, under those circumstances. Did you see that elevation chart?? I think I did pretty darn good given those hills (and my eye).

Here are some pics of me post-race and the swag: medal, shirt and race bib.

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Back of Shirt

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Front of shirt, race bib and medal

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Me, at home, post-race

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Close-up of the medal

Onto the next race: Surf City Half Marathon, Huntington Beach, CA on February 3, 2013. If you are planning to be there and see me, say hi!!